I hate advertising. A horrendous billboard has just gone up above the cinema near my house proclaiming ‘Pack More Into Your Mornings: Botica’s Bunch, Mix 94.5FM’. It has a photo of the bunch in question, a predictably middle-of-the-road threesome guaranteed to appeal to the broadest possible number of people.

But that phrase ‘pack more into your mornings’ irks me. What the hell does it mean? Pack more inane banter? Pack more lousy jokes? Pack more jokes about the differences between the sexes, about whose football team won, about celebrities? I don’t know, I haven’t listened, but I can imagine. If you really wanted to pack more into your mornings, you’d listen to Radio National, and be treated to in depth analysis of every political development over the past twenty-four hours. (A bit much for me, yet I keep doing it.) Imagine if there were billboards promoting Radio National instead of Mix FM?

Or imagine if instead of billboards and bus shelter ads trying to convince me to switch brands or spend more money, there was public art? Imagine every place you see advertising there was something meaningful or beautiful or both? Why the hell are we living like this?

Our culture is built around all these false dichotomies between almost identical options. Listen to 96FM or listen to 94.5FM. Watch the Today show or Sunrise, both with news, weather, celebrities, Hollywood gossip, quirky stories, live crosses. Watch Channel 7 News or watch Channel 9 news, Today Tonight or A Current Affair. Barrack for the Eagles or the Dockers… how can people seriously have arguments about football? Do they really think there is something intrinsically different about their football team in these days of nationalisation, of player trading and corporate sport, largely disconnected from place and community? Choose Hoyts or choose EVENT cinemas; when you get there choose the generic action movie or chickflick or comedy or drama of your choice, depending on the negotiation between you and your partner, because of course women like one sort of film and men like another type of film. Vote for Liberal, or vote for Labor, depending on whose hairstyle you like the best, according to who the media’s told you is better.

These are not true choices. We’re stuck on the surface, and I blame that damned billboard looming above the Windsor Cinema on Stirling Highway.